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Offseason Flurries: Draft Week in the NHL

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The last few days before the 2018 NHL Draft have arrived

2017 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The offseason can get long and dull at times, but this week and the following one - when the league piles their season awards, the entry draft, and the start of free agency all into a nice 10-day window - are when the summer gets a brief spurt of legitimate excitement.

For the Avalanche, it looks like things are going to remain much the same; they aren’t likely to get this year’s first-round pick from Ottawa via a change of heart on the Senators’ part, despite one of the league’s most dramatic offseasons in the modern era already playing out for the Atlantic Division team.

If you still haven’t gotten a chance, here’s a look at the Top 50 players heading into the draft on Friday in Dallas, Texas. [Mile High Hockey]

We’re pretty pleased to let you all know that Mile High Hockey will be officially-unofficially present at the draft, collecting quotes and tidbits from players and teams in each of the rounds to come. I’ll be there for my regular job, but should be able to get some interesting stuff to bring back for Colorado fans to ponder, as well.

As of right now, don’t expect there to be a ton of excitement for the Avalanche at the draft. They’re sitting pretty as it is, and they don’t need to make a huge splash like some of the other teams around the league.

If they do, though, here’s the case for potentially moving up in the first round. [MHH]

We’ve also got one more look at a potential goaltender (or, well, two to choose from) for the team to take at the draft, assuming they want to go all in and use one of their two current second round picks to take one of the top-billed prospects in this year’s class. [MHH]

Speaking of going all in, the Ottawa Citizen has a look at why the Senators may be making a mistake by leaving a chance for Joe Sakic to get their first round pick next year. [Ottawa Citizen]

Forget the draft, though.

On Monday, the biggest news of all dropped: Barry Trotz, the guy who finally got the Washington Capitals all the way to the top, resigned as head coach for the upcoming season. (And yes, that is the correct spelling; he stepped down, rather than re-upping.)

Trotz saw his current contract come to an unofficial end after the Stanley Cup run, but his resignation comes with a bit of a twist; he had the option to extend for another two years written into his current deal, albeit with a horrifically low payout.

So, without the money to go along with the monumental achievement, he’s on his way out. [USA Today]

If you have a subscription to The Athletic, by the way, this interview with members of the goaltending community who sit at the forefront of the equipment changes process is absolutely worth the read. [The Athletic NHL]

As the city of Humboldt, Saskatchewan continues to move beyond the Broncos bus crash from this spring, here’s a jarring series of reminders that not everyone is going to be able to move on.

Some of it will break your heart:

But other things, like this inspiring pic of nine of the team’s 13 survivors gathering to head to the awards this week, may just put a smile on your face as well:

Finally, we’ve got more from Dan Carcillo talking about the importance of concussion research and awareness:

I’ve mentioned during Flurries in the past how I’ve come to embrace the evolution of Carcillo to become a staunch advocate for proper mental health assessment and player support. He was an easy player to loathe on the ice, but he’s becoming an even easier one to support now that he’s hung up his skates for good.

This past week, though, another one of the league’s heavy-hitters came out to talk about the work that Carcillo has been doing - and this one hit a little closer to home:

My first full season covering the Arizona Coyotes (whom I covered and then worked with across four seasons prior to this one) from the press box was the year that Boynton got in trouble for drunken and disorderly-related conduct while up in Buffalo with the Coyotes.

The team itself was on a full-speed tank train, and Boynton was just a team radio voice - so his legal incident was largely swept under the rug by social media and the hockey community alike.

In the press box, though, I always had trouble reconciling the legal issues he’d had with the guy that genuinely reached out with kindness to everyone he saw. I was brand new, barely familiar with half the faces I came across at that point- but he always made a point to give a friendly smile and sometimes say hello and ask how the day was going. He didn’t set out to make a new best friend or anything, but just the simple act of smiling and including me made all the difference in the world. He made me feel like yes, I was supposed to be there.

Reading the struggles he’s dealt with due to concussions was incredibly difficult. I dealt with my own difficult concussion just prior to starting to write, so I knew to an extent where the physical problems were coming from - but the mental anguish he described, especially given what a genuinely welcoming person he was every day, was heartbreaking to discover.

I still don’t know what the league can do, exactly, about concussions. Even without legal checking, hockey is a contact sport (just watch the women’s game some time, especially if USA and Canada are playing). So eliminating head injuries altogether is likely impossible.

But as more and more retired players speak out, it’s abundantly clear that something has to be done.

I loved the fights. I’ll be the first person to admit it. I wanted to play like Ron Hextall, swinging my blocker wildly and occasionally slashing out the backs of some knees to send guys to the ice. It was - and underneath the knowledge I now have, still is to an extent - my favorite style of hockey. Shitheels are my lifeblood.

We know too much, though. It’s no longer easy to just express a preference for hard-hitting, dirty corners hockey, because we can’t claim ignorance.

Hopefully, the draft will be full of fast, evasive players that give us beautiful scoring chances and fewer concussions in the years to come.

I’ll end with the hope that all you dads, grandfathers, hopeful future dads, dog dads, and father figures - whoever you may be - had a wonderful Father’s Day on Sunday. I’ll dedicate the Flurries this week to my own dad - who did his best to be there for me through hockey, swim team, tennis, dance, cross country, track, and baseball despite being a 5-foot-2 jewish guy who hadn’t played an organized sport since 1980. I’m half a foot taller than him (and my 21-month old is already well over half his height and counting), but he’s pretty much the best there is.

Me and my dad, circa 1994 or so, inexplicably putting a very accident-prone toddler on roller blades without a helmet